Department of Computer Science

Claude Comair

Claude Comair Founder and President of DigiPen Institute of Technology. Principal Lecturer, Computer Science.

Founder and President
Principal Lecturer, Computer Science

Mr. Claude Comair earned a degree in Architecture and became a Professional Engineer in 1984. He was then invited by the Japanese Ministry of Education to become a government researcher positioned at Osaka University, Faculty of Engineering in Osaka, Japan. Later, he earned his master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Osaka University. He completed five more years of doctorate studies at Osaka University, faculty of Engineering, and is currently working on his doctorate thesis, which he will present to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. While in Japan in the 1980s, Mr. Comair helped to develop 3D visualization software which was utilized to simulate different events (e.g. earthquakes, etc.) in various cities.

In 1988, Mr. Comair applied his experience and passion for the game and simulation industries to addressing its need for innovation and a skilled workforce by founding DigiPen Corporation in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. In 1998, he co-founded Nintendo Software Technology in Redmond, WA, a subsidiary of Nintendo Co. Ltd. As Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of Nintendo Software, he oversaw the production of such game titles as Mario vs. Donkey Kong 1 and 2 (2004 and 2006), Ridge Racer 64 and DS (2000 and 2004), The Legend of Zelda (2003), 1080° Avalanche (2003), Wave Race: Blue Storm (2001), Pokémon Puzzle League (2000), Bionic Commando (2000), and many others. He has also created and registered numerous patents for Nintendo and Boeing.

Mr. Comair taught at DigiPen for more than two decades, and his expertise and passion for the industry and innovation continue to guide the curriculum and culture of DigiPen Institute of Technology today.

Samir Abou Samra

Samir Abou Samra, Chief Technology Officer of DigiPen Institute of Technology.

Chief Technology Officer
Program Director, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation
Principal Lecturer, Computer Science

Samir Abou Samra is a 12-year veteran of the video game industry with 15 years of experience teaching computer science and video game production classes.

Samra has held high-ranking positions at a number of technology companies, including Founder and CEO of Multitek, Lead Engineer at Nintendo Software Technology, Vice President of Operations at Nintendo Software Incorporated, Canada, and CEO of Al Kalam Al Electronic. He was also in charge of the production team that produced the FunEditor, a tool that allows users to create any genre of two-dimensional game. In addition to serving as CTO, Director of the BSCS program, and Chair of the Computer Science Department at DigiPen, Samra has also led DigiPen simulation projects for clients ranging from Boeing to Renault F1.

"Given my background in both academia and industry, I strive to provide the student with the theory and concepts they will need for industry-level implementation,” Samra says. “As I have had the chance to teach almost all the computer science courses, I fully understand DigiPen’s Computer Science program.”

Samra has bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in computer science from the Lebanese American University. He is also the co-author of eight U.S. patents related to game technology and computer science.

Game credits:

  • Bionic Commando (Game Boy Color)
  • Crystallis (Game Boy Color)
  • Pokemon Puzzle League (Nintendo 64)
  • Ridge Racer 64 (Nintendo 64)
  • Wave Race: Blue Storm (Nintendo GameCube)

Dmitri Volper, Ph.D.

Dmitri Volper, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science at DigiPen

Program Director, Master of Science in Computer Science
Professor, Computer Science

Dmitri Volper has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Novosibirsk State University in Russia. Before joining DigiPen in 2006, Volper taught at Omsk State University and SUNY Geneseo.

At DigiPen, Volper teaches Advanced C++, Artificial Intelligence, and Design and Analysis of Algorithms, focusing on the fundamentals of clear and efficient programming. Volper has also been actively involved in developing the Master of Science in Computer Science curriculum, supervising masters theses, and providing academic guidance to graduate students. In addition to his academic roles, Volper coaches the ACM programming competition club.

Selected publications:

  • Abhishek Chawan and Dmitri Volper, Wall-Building in RTS Games, GAMEON-NA 2008, August 13-15, 2008, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Pushpak Karnick, Ph.D.

Pushpak Karnick, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science at DigiPen

Department Chair, Computer Science
Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Dr. Pushpak Karnick has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, AZ, with an emphasis in computer graphics, real-time rendering techniques, information visualization, and geospatial visualization. He joined DigiPen in the spring of 2010 and currently teaches courses in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Image Processing, and Software Engineering.

Prior to his teaching position at DigiPen, Dr. Karnick taught an award-winning senior-graduate level course on Game Programming at ASU. Dr. Karnick has also published papers in the premier journals of his field based on his work as a Ph.D. student at ASU.

Antoine Abi Chakra

Antoine Abi Chakra, Lecturer, Department of Computer Science at DigiPen

Lecturer, Computer Science

Antoine Abi Chakra graduated from DigiPen with a bachelor's degree in Real-Time Interactive Simulation in 2006, and earned a master's degree in Computer Science from DigiPen in 2007.

In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate computer science courses, Abi Chakra currently works for DigiPen (USA) Corp., developing solutions for Boeing and Renault F1 among other companies.

Abi Chakra is responsible for the Game Implementation Techniques and Introduction to Portable Game Development undergraduate classes, and the Fundamentals of Game Development graduate class.

Courses taught:

Charles Duba, Ph.D.

Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Strategic Initiatives
Professor, Computer Science
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor, Physics

Charles Duba earned a BS in Physics from UC San Diego, and an MS and PhD in Physics from the University of Washington at the Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics. His dissertation project was on electronics for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, where he helped prove the solution to the long-standing "Solar Neutrino Problem." (See "Solving the Mystery of the Missing Neutrinos.") He continues to work on neutrino detection experiments, currently with HALO, a long-term supernova neutrino detector at the SNO lab in Sudbury.

Dr. Duba’s research interests are in weak-interaction physics, physics instrumentation, physics simulation, augmented reality, and hardware design.

Selected Publications:

  • "HALO -The Helium and Lead Observatory for Supernova Neutrinos," Journal of Physics, Conference Series, Volume 136 (2008).
  • "Electronics for the Neutral Current Detection Array at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory," Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, 277 pp (2006).
  • "Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Neutral Current Detectors Signal Readout System," IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, v 51, n 5, pp 2227-30 (2004).
  • "Direct Evidence for Neutrino Flavor Transformation from Neutral-Current Interactions in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory," Physical Review Letters, Volume 89, Issue 1; 746 citations (2002).
  • "Measurement of the Rate of ne + d -> p + p + e- Interactions Produced by 8B Solar Neutrinos at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory," Physical Review Letters, Volume 87, Issue 7; 831 citations (2001).
  • "Low Background 3He Proportional Counter for Use in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory," IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, Volume 46, Issue 4 (1999).
  • "Solar Fusion Cross Sections," Reviews of Modern Physics, Volume 70, Issue 4; 437 citations (1998).

Jason Hanson, Ph.D.

Jason Hanson, Professor, Department of Computer Science at DigiPen

Professor, Computer Science

Professor Jason Hanson has two Bachelor of Science degrees in three majors - astronomy, physics, and mathematics - from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a Master of Science degree in physics from the University of Virginia, a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from Columbia University, and a Doctorate degree in mathematics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Professor Hanson’s professional experience includes a two-year stint as a scientific computer programmer for Hughes STX, a contractor for NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, and teaching positions at U.S. military bases in South Korea for the University of Maryland University College.

Professor Hanson enjoys teaching a wide variety of classes, including programming, operating systems, sound synthesis, computer graphics, data structures, algorithm analysis, data compression, ray tracing, and animation techniques.

Selected publications:

  • "Tensor Products of Symmetric Functions over Z2," Central European Journal of Mathematics 3, no. 2 (2005), with Karl Heinz Dovermann.
  • "Logarithm of the Discrete Fourier Transform," International Journal of Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences (2007), with Michael Aristidou.
  • "Equivariant Simplicial Complexes Revisited," International Mathematical Forum 3, no. 9-12 (2008).

Gary Herron, Ph.D.

Gary Herron, Professor, Department of Computer Science at DigiPen

Professor, Computer Science

Professor Gary Herron earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Northern Michigan University in 1974 and a Doctorate in mathematics from the University of Utah in 1979. Since then, his career has been split between industry and academy, including positions at Boeing and Alias|Wavefront-SGI as well as professorships at the University of Maine, Colorado State University, and, most recently, DigiPen.

"There are several unique attributes of DigiPen and its students that make teaching computer graphics here highly rewarding,” Professor Herron says. “The students are driven by the games they produce each year to include many advanced techniques from computer graphics. This means they are uncommonly motivated to learn the material in the graphics courses I teach, and eager to apply newly learned techniques to their games."

Professor Herron's area of expertise includes computer graphics and the mathematics of curves and surfaces for use in computer-aided design and geometric modeling.

Selected publications:

  • "Smooth Closed Surfaces with Discrete Triangular Interpolants," Computer Aided Geometric Design 2, no. 4 (1985).
  • "Techniques for visual continuity," in Geometric Modeling: Algorithms and New Trends, ed. G. Farin (Philadelphia: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, 1987).
  • "Polynomial Bases for Quadratic and Cubic Polynomials Which Yield Control Points with Small Convex Hulls," Computer Aided Geometric Design 6, no. 1 (February 1989).
  • "Generalizing Rational Degree Elevation," Computer Aided Geometric Design 15, no. 5 (1997), with William A. Denker.

Eva-Maria Iwer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Eva-Maria Iwer earned a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Dresden University of Technology in Germany. Her dissertation project was on recommendation systems and collective intelligence in the area of software as a service for business applications.

Dr. Iwer’s professional experience includes four years as an IT Consultant for CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation), where she was an expert for program, project, and test management in near and offshore projects. She successfully led several projects in the area of public and financial service.

Her research interests are Software Engineering, Usability and Accessibility, UI and UX, and personality-based project management. During her lectures, Dr. Iwer links theory with related business scenarios and practical examples. Due to her German heritage, these sometimes include bad jokes and soccer examples.

Xin Li, Ph.D.

Xin Li, Dean of Faculty and Professor, Department of Computer Science at DigiPen

Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs
Professor, Computer Science

Dr. Xin Li is the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. Aside from his academic and administrative duties, Li also teaches animation, modeling, and real-time rendering techniques to seniors and graduate students.

Prior to his faculty position at DigiPen, Li had seven years experience with Lockheed Martin and three years experience at Nintendo Software Technology, developing real-time simulation software and video games.

Over the years, Li has published 35 technical papers in research journals and conference proceedings, including at SIGGRAPH and in the Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM) Transactions. He is also the co-author of eight registered U.S. patents.

Matthew Mead

Matthew Mead, Principle Lecturer, Department of Computer Science at DigiPen

Principal Lecturer, Computer Science

Matthew Mead received his BS and MS degrees in computer science from Portland State University in Portland, OR, with an emphasis on computer languages. Prior to teaching at DigiPen, Matthew worked as a software engineer in various companies, with the majority of his time spent developing educational software for Addison-Wesley, McGraw Hill, Prentice Hall, IBM, World Book Encyclopedia, and many other companies.

Currently, Mead teaches the first and second semester C and C++ courses, as well as Data Structures for sophomores. In addition to his academic background, he has spent more than 10 years working on a variety of professional software projects. He brings this real-world experience into the classroom, which directly benefits students, as their year-long game projects mimic real-world software development.

Courses offered by this department:

Course descriptions from all departments: